Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

Farm Days: Wheat Threshing November 8, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 6:55 am
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The farm in autumn is so full of fun activities and experiences! One of my favorite things about it is that they use turn of the century farming techniques and equipment.

This trip taught us the process of going from seed to whole grain- something a city girl never got to do before. I thought it was really cool!

Wheat is harvested here using a reaper-binder, a machine that cuts and ties the wheat into bundles (sheaves). The farmers walk behind the reaper and set the sheaves upright, leaning the bunches against one another (called “shocks”). This helps them to dry. After about a week, they are brought in from the fields for storage. Can I get a little Bringing in the Sheaves?

Feature of the Day: Steam Engine

This was the big attraction: the steam engine, or traction engine. What a cool machine! When the steam escaped, it was really loud, but B was still fascinated by it. It powered the thresher, as seen below:

Another shot of the ‘ol traction engine:

Courtesy of Howell Living History Farm

Threshing removes the wheat grain fromĀ  the stem of wheat. The wheat stems and chaff are blown up into the barn and later used for animal bedding. The grain is emptied into bags as it leaves the thresher.

I like the farmer on top of the hay

Bags of grain begin collecting on the trailer bed

The grains are so soft and fun to play with. B could not keep her hands out of the bin!

I wish I would have taken a picture of the winnower, a hand-powered machine that separates the chaff, dust, and other debris from the wheat grain. But the next process is grinding the wheat. We even got to sing our grinding song from our autumn circle!

Round and round the wheel goes round. As it turns the wheat is ground…

At the end of our trip, we had tasty wheat muffins baked with the wheat from the farm! We even got to take a bit home with us. This was an extra special trip because we got to enjoy the wheat festivities with some dear friends. That always makes for good times!

Thanks for reading, I hope this updated version comes through! (sort of had a premature publishing of this post- no pics or stories!)

Until next time,



Farm Days: Popcorn Harvest October 25, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 8:00 am
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During our latest trip to the local historic working farm, we got to learn about popcorn harvesting!

Ears of popcorn were picked in the field to be stored and dried for at least 18 months. The corn we shelled was from a few seasons back. The tiny kernels hold much tighter to the cob than feed corn. Plus, they have rougher edges, making the manual shelling process less than meditative.


The popcorn was heated in a metal popping box over an open flame. It tasted really popcorny- lots of flavor, and much better than store-bought. Yum!


And what would popcorn making be without a little song? I modified this traditional rhyme to work as a song. One day I’ll get the recordings up! Probably in five years, knowing my rate of accomplishing anything less than necessary.

Pop pop pop!
Pour the popcorn in the pot.
Pop pop pop!
Take and shake it ’til it’s hot.
Pop pop!
Lift the lid, what have you got?
Pop pop pop pop!

The pops are loads of fun and great as a fill-in-the-blank if singing with a minimally verbal child. Pop was one of Briony’s first words, thanks to songs!

Happy popping!


Farm Days! July 24, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 9:48 am
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We are fortunate to have a really fantastic “living history” farm near us. It is preserved by the county and therefore free to go and visit! They keep sheep, work horses, a cow, chickens, two massive oxen, pigs, and a happy family of geese. The educational component of the farm is amazing. I have learned so much about 19th century farming! They continue to run the farm using simple machines, animal, and human hands. Here are a few snapshots from our trips there.

Briony watches the sheep graze

Briony and Daddy help find fresh eggs

I learned that chickens lay eggs whether a rooster is around or not. If the rooster is not there, the eggs aren’t fertile. I never knew it! This farm keeps one or two roosters. They use the eggs to bake on the weekends.

Children fill water buckets from the well

Pumping water from a well is hard work for little hands! After all the children filled their buckets, they took it around the barn to the big work horse who was resting. She enjoyed the fresh water.

Cooling off with a nice mud bath

I think these are Greylag geese, but I cannot remember. They are pretty birds.

Wool hanging in the barn

This is the first time I’ve seen wool hanging like this. I suppose it keeps it off the floor.

Briony with her friend, Aly, watching the rooster. Briony also calls roosters cockerels, which is the English term.